The Chicago Bulls came into this season very differently than in the recent past.
They brought in a new head coach, Billy Donovan, in order to shift the culture.
The Bulls have not made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons now.
After 12 postseason appearances in 14 years, these past four have brutal for the franchise.
Constant lottery appearances, bad head coaches, and no marquee player have hindered the growth of this organization.
However, this season was going to be a change.
Coach Donovan was going to bring a level of intensity and smarts, after finding success with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Their franchise guy, Zach LaVine, was going to take the leap and perhaps make an All-Star team for the first time.
A playoff berth was the goal, but they sadly missed the mark.
The Bulls had high hopes, but they ultimately fell flat.
Here is why that happened.
3. Lack of Awareness And Chemistry
Chemistry and awareness are two key attributes for a winning team.
Players must be able to play cohesive basketball, while being aware as to who they are and what their role is on the team.
The Bulls had a problem with both.
There were some players on the roster that believed that they were in a bigger role.
White was supposed to help facilitate as the other guard in the starting lineup, alongside LaVine.
However, he and LaVine took a lot of shots together.
LaVine is the star of the team that can shoot the lights out, but White is not.
He took 13 shots a game, while only shooting 41 percent from the field.
Also, he averaged 2.3 turnovers per game, while averaging 4.8 assists per game.
The Bulls want to use White as their second guard, but it is becoming difficult.
Markkanen has regressed each season.
This year was going to be his bounce back, since Jim Boylen was gone.
He was not good defensively and cannot rebound.
The man is a seven-footer, which makes it hard for him to be on the court if he struggles to play the four or five.
Then there is the viral clip of Denzel Valentine taking the worst possible shot you can take in a close game.
"Nooo nooo nooo."
Still thinking about this shot by Denzel Valentine last night 😅 pic.twitter.com/JdTQHu8Q54
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 25, 2021
Their players had a hard time adjusting to the roles and stagnated their chemistry.
2. Zach LaVine Having COVID
LaVine had a career year this season.
He averaged 27.4 points, five rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game.
This season was phenomenal for the young guard as he made his first All-Star team.
His play was close to translating to a play-in spot, and possibly, a playoff berth.
Then it was taken away from LaVine once he got COVID late in the season.
At one point, it was a mystery as to why he was in the COVID protocols.
After missing several games, he came back and told the media it was indeed a positive test.
Speaking to reporters for first time in a while, Zach LaVine confirms a positive test for COVID-19 landed him in health and safety protocols. Said he wouldn’t call his case asymptomatic, but he “felt fine.”
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) May 5, 2021
For those 11 games he missed, the Bulls went 4-7.
Their chances seemed like they went off the rails once he missed those 11 games.
1. The Vucevic Trade
The Bulls made a big trade during the trade deadline this season.
They acquired all-star big, Nikola Vucevic, to pair up with their All-Star in LaVine.
FULL TRADE DETAILS *as of now*
Bulls – Nikola Vucevic, Al-Farouq Aminu
Magic – Wendell Carter, Otto Porter, Two 1st-Round Picks
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) March 25, 2021
Unfortunately, the trade never worked.
Vucevic and LaVine played as if they didn’t want to step on the other’s toes.
Vucevic just did not look comfortable with the Bulls.
The Bulls ended up going 11-15 after the trade.
There was so much hope after this trade was announced.
The chemistry just never clicked and made them fall flat.
Hopefully next season, they can rebound for a playoff berth.